Is a Lack of Sleep Affecting Your Grades?
After a night of studying, it feels so good to unwind with your favorite late-night TV show. Maybe then you chat with a friend or catch up on social media. You fall asleep sometime after midnight, then fuel up on caffeine when you wake up at 6 am. Throughout the day you feel cranky, moody, and easily distracted. Despite hard work, your grades aren’t quite what you want them to be, and you get sick more often than you should.
Sound familiar? A recent study of more than 15 million teenagers found that poor sleep habits are common in kids this age. The consequences, according to the study, can range from family fights, to severe headaches, to social problems and even car wrecks. And, of course, moodiness and difficulty concentrating can lead to low test scores.
So how do you get more sleep? First of all, researchers tend to agree that teenagers are wired to stay up late and sleep later in the morning. Some of this isn’t even your fault! But until school systems catch up with current research, you can’t do much about that 8 am start time. What you can do is encourage your body to adjust to it.
Create the right environment for sleep. Get room darkening shades, if needed, and pick up some ear plugs or a white noise machine. Turn off electronics after 9 or 10 pm at night, and turn your alarm clock to face the wall so that the glow doesn’t disturb you.
Reset your body’s rhythm. Don’t watch tv or use a smart phone within an hour or two of bedtime. The glow from the screen mimics natural light, and tells your brain that it’s daytime. When you first wake up in the morning, open your curtains for natural sunlight. This helps your brain to recognize that it’s morning now.
Take a relaxing bath or shower before bed. The warm water helps you feel sleepy. You might even experiment with lavender scented soaps, since lavender is said to be soothing and relaxing.
Exercise during the day. Avoid exercising at night, because the endorphin rush will keep you up. Yoga or meditation at night can help you unwind.
Avoid caffeine after 3 pm. Coffee and energy drinks might seem like great fuel for long study sessions, but they will keep you awake at night.
Talk to your parents and doctor. Tell your parents if insomnia is keeping you up at night, and discuss it with your doctor. In some cases, certain medications could be the cause of your problem. Always talk to an adult if you’re experiencing problems that impact your ability to study, drive safely, or feel healthy.